A Travellerspoint blog

Wrapping-Up Work and Starting Summer

Can't believe we taught a full school year already!

Hello Everyone,

Once again, it's been several months since I've written anything here, and we've made it to another milestone! One big highlight since the last post is that we stopped being required to wear masks at work, and have just recently gotten to the point where we don't wear them on the subway either (I had my first mask-free subway ride a couple days ago, though the majority of other people did wear masks there were a decent number who did not). I'll catch you up on the end of the school year, highlighting some notable events and incidents, and then briefly review our summer + fall plans. I realized I need to start taking more photos again, cause this post they're pretty sparse. (Sorry!)

In general, the end of the school year was busy and stressful -- Matt got sick after not sleeping enough prepping for the school concert, and then I got sick as well but not as bad (I managed to not take any days off and just wore a mask again) so we ended up pretty behind on both work and regular household stuff. Neither of us had realized that grades and comments were due during before the school year ended, and Matt had over 400 to write, which was quite stressful even though I tried to help by setting him up spreadsheets and formulas for each class. I was also wrapping-up posting content and just finished submitting final grades to the last districts yesterday for my other job, and I'm finishing up doing more prep to help get them set for next year in my last few weeks working. I ended up taking a personal day on the last day of regular classes in order to work more on grading, because I had a deadline for my students on that day and it was supposed to be the final day grades were submitted. Matt started a week later than I did and is still in his last week of school now, but he's just got one more full day of teaching and then a couple of half-days, and we feel like we've both had successful school years despite some challenges/hiccups along the way. After getting in our annual Lord of the Rings movie marathon during Spring Break, I checked out The Hobbit from my school library, and we read that together at night before bed. I turned it in the last day of school and picked up the Fellowship of the Ring, which we're planning to start tonight.


My school sent all the high school and middle school students on trips Mon-Wed of our last week of school, and had the extreme good luck to be selected to chaperone the grade 11 Canyons trip (they try to choose teachers who enjoy outdoor adventures), which was an absolute blast. We had the oldest students and ours was one of the only single-grade trips, so that made it way less work to supervise, and we had 6 chaperones because the students got split into small groups for some activities, so I basically had no supervision responsibilities and just got to do some fun stuff with a lot of kids who had never done things like that before. We went pack-rafting, canyoning, hiking, and rafting and it was great! I think canyoning was my favorite, which is where you just navigate down river in a canyon, through a combination of wading/walking, swimming, jumping, and sliding (and one time being lowered partway down a waterfall before we were dropped). At the lodge, the first night I finished my grading but then got to enjoy games of Bananagrams with the other chaperones, and started reading a book for fun (Thinking, Fast & Slow).


We've started collecting items we bought from Sayonara sales (other teachers leaving), including a couple of small trees, some curtains, collapsible shelves, storage bins, adjustable weights, and an outdoor table. As it happens, I didn't understand what a set of curtains meant, so I accidentally purchased twice as many as I thought, and within the same week somehow ordered two guitar capos on Amazon. We also have random things that haven't fit where we thought they would or that we got as gifts/prizes, and I'm really missing the convenience of Goodwill in the US. It's difficult to get rid of things here and I'm going to try to list some things for free online this week. As for the curtains, it almost turned out good that I got extra because I think I had possibly the messiest incident of my life a couple of nights ago (another close incident was when I lived with Melissa and Polly got into flour and cocoa powder from the cupboard and dragged them all over). In a string of unfortunate events, I first burned myself on the lid of a pan while making dinner. Then, because of the burn, I was icing the inside of my wrist against my smoothie cup, and accidentally knocked over Matt's completely full smoothie. This would have been a fairly contained mess, except that I got in a full direct hit on Loki with all of the smoothie. This first off made the initial splatter zone more spectacular -- ranging from the bottom of the table, to all three chairs, the back wall, the cupboards and drawers on one side of the kitchen, and almost stretching to the trash cans on the opposite walls. Then, of course, Loki immediately panicked, and sprinted into our bedroom. He went so fast that he was drifting around corners and managed to get smoothie skid marks on several walls and doors (in addition to numerous drips and smoothie paw prints on the floor and rug), before jumping onto the window sill. This caused a splatter all across our bed, and got more smoothie on multiple curtains and windows. I caught him there but I was trying to be careful cause I had on a white shirt, so I managed to lose him again in the bathroom. Thankfully, Matt caught him there, and the additional damage was contained to the bathroom entrance/sink area, before we finally got him into the shower room and I hosed him down while he howled in despair. Matt and I were laughing fairly hysterically the whole time, and though the cleanup was immense, we now think that we have hunted down all traces of smoothie from the apartment (though I would not be surprised to still encounter some for the next month in spots we may have missed). I really wish we had gotten some video footage of the event, as it was truly spectacular.

The end of the school year has also seen more social events coming up, as we've had several staff parties over the last couple of weeks. In a miraculous feat of social activity (for me), I have multiple social events today and had one yesterday! I am going rock climbing with one of the teachers who's leaving today, and then meeting up with my school yoga group for dinner -- our regular classes on campus ended, but I've still bee doing a Saturday morning Zoom class, which Matt says makes him nauseas for 70% of the class. The teacher is great but it's very challenging and she frequently watches everyone's alignment and then says cryptic things we'e supposed to change like "lift your kneecaps!" Her attention to detail is fairly incredible, given we're on Zoom. Matt will sometimes mutter something like, "how could she possibly see my heel wasn't down!?" it's been fun getting into some more active routines, which brings me to my social event yesterday, a volleyball open gym. Apparently it's been going on for a long time, because one of the teachers I went with had gone herself as a senior in high school (?20 years ago), but hadn't been back since. We showed up and took our shoes off, at the door. Then, we were instructed to pay 140yen (about $2) in a vending machine that gave us a ticket, which we then exchanged with the guy at the desk for a laminated number, after filling in a few things on a sign-in sheet. We were very grateful that one of the teachers spoke Japanese, as no one else there spoke much English and the instructions were a bit complicated. Once we got in, we put on our other shoes, and were told (translated by the teacher) that we would start with some drills and then play games at the end, where the guy leading it would divide us based on skill (he also said that there were supposedly people of all levels there, from advanced to "absolute beginner," though I found that I was likely the worst person there and I would have put myself quite aways above absolute beginner). We weren't allowed to even drink water in the gym, so I'm sure the floors were spotless, though we still swept them at the end. It was a lot of fun, and unbelievable how even one of the guys who looked to be about 80 was really good. There were also a number of middle school boys, with boundless energy, though mostly it was middle-aged men (one other woman came, besides the three of us from Seisen). I managed to feel very culturally out of sync when we started the games. I managed to mis-time the rock-paper-scissors, even though Yuri tried to explain the timing to be beforehand, and then right after I was somehow the only one in our team huddle who thought that your hands go down after a cheer. When one of the guys next to me got a good hit early on, I went to give him a high five and realized he was going for a fist bump, so we both switched and I fist-bumped his open palm (then we both just laughed). I wish my Japanese was better than virtually non-exsistent, but I still had a great time and I'm hoping to go back every Monday!

We recently saw the Dungeons & Dragons movie (it's a lot of fun, if you haven't seen it) and I've been very grateful that Matt started playing D&D with me when we moved here. I think I would be remiss if I didn't mention in my blog at some point how much we enjoy or weekly D&D games! It's really fun to catch up with everyone, and reminds me how lucky I am that my older brothers and friends let me start playing with them 23 years ago, even though I sometimes did dumb things in our campaigns. It's been a mainstay throughout my life and it's a collaborative/creative outlet that I hope to stick with forever. It has been a lot of fun to share that with Matt, which reminds me that we recently had the five year anniversary of our first date (and three years from our engagement, which I intentionally planned for the same day so that we would have fewer dates to keep track of). We haven't done much to celebrate yet because it's been a crazy time, but I did take a moment to read through our wedding photo album (thanks Melissa and Brian for the photographer, and Heather, for getting us the book!) with our vows and Steve's comments during the ceremony. I can't imagine living here without Matt, or living anywhere without him, for that matter. He's a truly incredible life partner and I wanted to take a moment of gratitude for him here, in our blog. I still feel somewhat guilty/nervous admitting that I can't think of a time when we've ever had a fight. I constantly hear people mention wanting time away from their spouse or some habit that drives them crazy, and I feel grateful for every moment that I get to spend with Matt. I can't think of anyone else I'd rather be with, even though we spend most all our free time together, and I missed him when I was gone for two night on the Canyons trip. I appreciate how he can just laugh with me when things are ridiculous and terrible, and that he always communicates in a way that is both kind and honest. I had someone tell me that I would never feel as confident in my spouse's love as I did in my family's, but I can't imagine feeling more certain of anyone's love than I feel with Matt. He's the best.

My summer classes ended up not going, so I am just staying home more to finish work, plan for next year, and get stuff done around the house. I've practiced both Japanese and guitar for a few days in a row now, and I'm getting some cleaning (still catching up on laundry from the smoothie incident) and gardening done, along with grocery shopping, cooking, exercising, and reading. It's nice to have some downtime and I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks, though I'm definitely looking forward to Bali and seeing everyone even more. We're also solidifying other plans to see people -- including a Christmas trip to Florida, and some friends coming here over fall break. We got our tentative teaching schedules for next year, and it should be fairly similar for me. I will be teaching two older grades of Design, which means a bit more work in class prep but I get to stay with my students so I won't be learning a whole bunch of names to start the year! Matt's schedule will be a bit lighter, though he is somewhat sad to be going to only elementary. I hope it works out well for him, but I feel a little bit guilty that we're so close to my work and my job is so great. I think he's getting the raw end of the deal with his long commute and work he's less excited about, but we're definitely glad that he has a contract for next year. On the whole, we're finally settling into life here somewhat. I think it's taken the full year for me to feel like I can say that, and there's still a lot more to learn and do, but it feels like we're making progress, and I'm excited to see what comes our way next.

Tara, Matt, Thor & Loki

Posted by taraMatuszek 00:47 Archived in Japan

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Bahahaha the Loki escapade sounds AMAZING. Also, so funny to think about the Polly/flour/cocoa powder incident! I love reading your blog posts—I’m so happy that you and Matt found each other, and we can’t wait to spend more time with both of you in Bali!

by Melissa

I was laughing so hard I was crying reading about your mis-adventure with Loki ! 🤣 😂. Happy Anniversary of your 1st Date/ Engagement 🥂 The Love you have for each other is precious and it’s a joy to be around the two of you. ❤️❤️💐

by Heather Hayes

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